LAKELAND – Jessica Trana's two-run double in the first inning gave Florida Southern the lead and Kristen Beacham carried the Moccasins on her shoulders the rest of the way. Given the lead after working out of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the top of the first, Beacham dominated the second half of the game to complete a three-hit shutout for a 2-0 win over 4th-ranked Palm Beach Atlantic in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. The Sailfish won the weather-delayed second game 8-0 behind a two-hit shutout from Ashton Adkins.
The win by Florida Southern (23-15, 10-14 Sunshine State Conference) ended a school-record 23-game winning streak by Palm Beach Atlantic (27-3, 20-1) while handing the Sailfish their first conference loss in their first season of eligibility for the league title. The 23-game streak had been the third-longest currently going in college softball, surpassed by only Colorado Mesa's 34-0 start to the season in Division II, and 32 straight wins by defending Division III champion Virginia Wesleyan dating back to last year. It was the Mocs' first win over a ranked opponent since 2015 when they beat #11 Long Island Post and #22 Caldwell. Their last win over a top-five team was a 6-5 victory over No. 2 Alabama-Huntsville in 2009.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- The Sailfish put pressure on the Moccasins right away in the top of the first inning when their first three batters reached base against Beacham on a walk, error, and hit-by-pitch. Faced with that difficult situation, Beacham worked out of it by getting two force-outs at the plate, one on a ball hit back to her in the pitcher's circle and the other on a ball hit to third baseman Jenna Weldon. The sophomore from Bartow then struck out Logan Kilgore to leave the bases loaded.
- In the bottom of the first, Florida Southern did PBA one better by putting its first four batters on base against Abbey Busby. The first two were infield singles by Desirae Klumpp and Shannon Bell, and the third was Trana's double into the gap in left center. That brought both Klumpp and Bell in to score for a 2-0 Moccasin lead. Zierra Flodman followed with another hit that put runners at the corners and after she moved to second on a groundout, the Moccasins nearly scored two more runs. PBA leftfielder Claudia Pizzarelli denied them, however, by making a sliding catch on what should have been a two-run single by Makayla Deuberry but instead ended the inning.
- Beacham had to work through two more tough situations in the second and third innings when the Sailfish had two on and one out in each of them. In the third, when the Sailfish tried to score a runner from third by drawing a throw to second, Deuberry cut the ball off in front of the bag and looked Michaela Hynes back to third before throwing over to Trana at first. When Hynes tried to score anyway, Trana turned and got the ball to Flodman in time for a tag at the plate for the final out of the inning.
- After that successful defensive stop, Beacham allowed one base runner over the final four innings. That was a leadoff single by Magnolia West in the fifth. She went no further though as Pizzarelli was called out for making contact out of the batter's box before a ground ball by Hynes struck West on the foot between first and second, resulting in another out. Beacham ended the inning with a strikeout and set the Sailfish down in order in the sixth and seventh, but not without some help from Deuberry. With two out in the top of the seventh, and the Mocs still protecting a 2-0 lead, West hit one hard up the middle that Beacham got enough leather on to slow it down before it could leave the infield. Deuberry charged in from her shortstop position and made a quick exchange and throw to nip West at first for the final out of the game.
- Beacham's complete game shutout, her first shutout of the season, improved her record to 8-2 and lowered her ERA to 1.45. In addition to allowing only three hits, she struck out four and walked two. Those hits were singles by Alexis Guerra in the second, Maddie Bertisch in the third, and West in the fifth.
- Abbey Busby suffered her first loss of the season for Palm Beach Atlantic, falling to 11-1. The freshman gave up just the two first-inning runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Four of those hits came from Florida Southern's first four batters of the game, and six came from the first 13. After that, Busby allowed only a fourth-inning infield single by Klumpp, who went 2-for-2 with a walk against her. Flodman also had two hits for the Moccasins.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- The Sailfish scored in the top of the first when West reached on an error, took second on a groundout and came home on a single by Hynes. By the third inning, their lead was up to 4-0 after West tripled and scored on a fielder's choice, and Hynes blasted a two-run homer to left. A two-run single by West in the top of the fourth made the score 6-0, ended the day for Moccasin starting pitcher Kelli Gault, and the Sailfish tacked on single runs in the sixth and seventh against Aubrey Ehlers. The last of those runs came after a delay of nearly one hour due to lightning, and that followed an earlier delay in the sixth inning for rain.
- Adkins limited Florida Southern to two hits in pitching her fifth complete game shutout of the season, with four of those coming in conference play. Trana singled in the first inning, and Flodman doubled in the fourth. Trana nearly had another hit, but Hynes stabbed a bullet at first base in the bottom of the fourth that was headed down the line for a would-be double. The Moccasins also received four walks from Adkins, two by Deuberry, one by Trana, and one by Alex Mace.
- Adkins helped herself in the bottom of the third by catching a line drive up the middle by Klumpp, and more defensive help from Alexis Guerra at second when she back-handed another ball by Klumpp and made an off-balance throw to first for the out. That helped her pitch Palm Beach Atlantic's league-leading 11th shutout of the season, seven of which she has been a part. The win upped her record to 11-1.
- Gault took the loss, falling to 6-7 after allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits in 3.2 innings with two strikeouts and no walks. Ehlers went 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with one strikeout and no walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Florida Southern has now ended three winning streaks of 20 games or longer since 2008. In addition to Saturday, the Moccasins halted a 20-game winning streak by Alabama-Huntsville in their 6-5 win over the Chargers in 2009, and an SSC-record 35-game winning streak by top-ranked Barry in 2008. That one came on a three-run walk-off home run by Sara Lovestrand at Barnett Field for a 3-1 victory over the Buccaneers.
- Florida Southern also ended the second-longest winning streak in team history for Palm Beach Atlantic, stopping that one at 16 in a row in 2010.
- Beacham's shutout was her first complete game shutout since she blanked Chadron State last year in her first start. It was the 10th shutout by the Moccasin pitching staff this season, their most since having 21 in 2012.
- Klumpp, Bell, and Trana all had three hits in the series for Florida Southern, though Deuberry and Trana each had two hits and two walks. West was the top hitter in the series for PBA, going 6-for-11 with two triples and three RBI, while Hynes was 3-for-8 with two walks, one double, one home run and four RBI.
- The series featured the top three individual hitters in the SSC in Bell, West, and Pizzarelli. West was able to take the lead with her six-hit performance, with Bell now second, but Pizzarelli dipped under the .400 mark after going 0-for-7 in Saturday's doubleheader. Kacie Kelly and Ashley Morris of Saint Leo are now third and fourth.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern will travel to Melbourne next weekend (April 13-14) for a three-game series at Florida Tech. The first game is Friday at 3 p.m., with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.